Each of the 24 Septembers I’ve been alive has heralded a new school year – a different stage in the schooling process or a new institution. It has, unsurprisingly, felt a bit weird this year when September actually marked the end of my school career and the start of working life. I have mixed feelings about working life so far but that’s a post for another today.
I’m here to talk about how I am headed back to ‘learning’, if not school. With the assistance of numerous self help books (sorry credit card – your welcome Amazon) and various websites, I am going to learn to write. I’m sure the first question to come to mind is, “But can’t you?”. Yes (at least I hope you think so 🙂 ) but like anything else there is nothing to be lost by immersing myself in the process of learning. I have started off with the ‘How to Write Great Fiction’ series by Writers’ Digest and I am re-reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. So far they have reinforced a lot of what I’ve already learned through reading novels and actually writing but I have picked up a few tricks along the way.
It is impossible to speak about learning to write without addressing what James Bell Scott refers to as the ‘Big Myth’ – that is, writing talent is something you are born with and not something which can be learned through study and continued practice. I remember the backlash I faced when I considered abandoning the idea of law school in order to do a BA in Creative Writing and then an MFA in Creative Writing. Most people said to me, ‘Writing is about talent’ or ‘It will be a waste of time or money to be taught how to write’. They said it as if the idea of studying creative writing was the most absurd idea I’d ever come up with (hint: I have several absurd ideas on a daily basis so to be the most is pretty dismal). Eventually, I decided against it. Do I regret that decision? No. But not because I don’t think I could have ‘learned’ to write even though that had been the basis upon which the decision was made five years ago. Now, I know that my Muse would not have had any part of structured learning. She is already a monster with regards to structured writing. While looking for self-help books at how to start and grow a business and how to effectively self-publish, I realized that it would excellent if I used the next couple months to also surround myself with books on writing as I work on my novels. I’m excited to see how this turns out!
If you have any suggestions on books that have helped you along the way, feel free to drop them in the comments box!